The stock of insurer and financial services provider AXA Equitable Holdings (EQH -1.39%) ended Tuesday nearly 10% higher after it received a price-target raise from Wells Fargo analyst Elyse Greenspan. Equitable is now worth $23 per share, according to her, representing a $2 raise from her previous target. Greenspan maintained her overweight (i.e., buy) recommendation on Equitable's shares.
The Wells Fargo analyst's adjustment comes a day after Equitable released its preliminary Q1 fiscal 2020 profitability figures.
For the quarter, the company is expecting adjusted operating earnings to come in at $500 million to $515 million, or $1.11 to $1.14 per share, according to the shares-outstanding count from Yahoo! Finance. That range is a touch higher than the average analyst bottom-line estimate of $1.10, again according to Yahoo! Finance.
For comparison's sake, Q1 2019's operating earnings were $509 million.
Equitable also said in the preliminary release that it was planning to maintain its level of capital returns. In Q1, this meant a per-share quarterly dividend of $0.15, and $205 million in stock repurchases.
We're now in a time of rapidly eroding profitability across the economic spectrum, dividend cuts, and share-repurchase suspensions. In such an atmosphere, it's encouraging when a company can more or less maintain its profitability without sacrificing shareholder returns.
We'll get a clearer picture of Equitable's performance when the official Q1 results are released next Thursday, May 7.